IFI governance


Equity, inclusion and education: Examining evidence on low-fee private schools

6 October 2016

6 October 2016 | Minutes

Sponsor: Global Campaign for Education


  • Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director, Global Campaign for Education (Moderator)
  • Tanvir Muntasim, International Policy Manager-Education, ActionAid
  • Salima Namusobya, Executive Director, Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (joined remotely)
  • Wilson Sossion, General Secretary, Kenya National Union of Teachers (joined remotely)
  • Oni R. Lusk-Stover, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank Group

Jennifer Rigg

  • The report discusses whether governments can provide quality education that is accessible to all children; well-trained and supported teachers, and inclusive education.

Tanvir Muntasim (see full powerpoint of Tanvir’s presentation here)

  • What does the report do? It looks at the growth of for-profit low fee private schools (LFPS) and the actors promoting them; it examines the evidence behind the key arguments from LFPS proponents; it documents the impact privatisation of education has on poverty, inequality and social segregation; it offers feasible and pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing quality public education.
  • Low-fee private schools: low costs-high profit? BIA and Omega Schools play into the ‘great growth industries of 21stcentury’.  Big supporters for private education are World Bank, bilateral donors, such as DFID. Pearson, ADB and economic commission, philanthropy billionaires.
  • Five of the arguments of the proponents; (1) LFPS offer better quality; (2) LFPS affordable for all; (3) more efficient and innovative; (4) reach most excluded; and brings choice and competition driving standards up and responding to parental choice.
  • Responses (1) better quality; schools focused on tests, not teaching skills, low qualified or unqualified teachers, so no clear private sector advantage in quality.
  • (2) affordable for all; the percentage of income spend on LFPS are very high. As people pay taxes to government that pay for providing public schools, so they are essentially pay twice. The schools are not affordable for all, and price poor communities out of schools.
  • (3) efficient & innovative: unsustainable and frequent closures, affecting performance and efficiency. Very low costs standardization of education, based on outdated education principles.
  • (4) reach most excluded; most LFPS are in urban areas, not the rural where most excluded are, girls are excluded and the schools preselect children on abilitt, so the ones likely to do better are at those schools and those with learning disabilities are excluded, as well as out of school children. Schools are not available in conflict and fragile contexts.
  • (5) more choice and competition; when the parents become dissatisfied they want to pay less and jump from school to school. Choices based on inaccurate information.
  • Where do we go from here?: Public educations needs to be put first and increase the confidence in public education and increase financing in it, as this has been declining, and make this financing inclusive, progressive and increase scrutiny, governance and accountability in the public sector, quality and equity in the public sector and ensure public regulation of the private education providers

Education International  Campaign video

Wilson Sossion

  • Kenya has the largest presence of LFPS in Africa. Kenya constitution protects the rights for children to education (article 43/f and 53/1). 2 million children are out of school. Private sector played a large role in Kenya.
  • BIA is the largest LFPS in Kenya and are ill-equipped, confirmed by ministry. The schools don’t meet infrastructural standards of education. Don’t use qualified teachers and don’t use a recognised curriculum and are acting outside the constitution and is discriminatory for Kenyan children.
  • Education should be free in this country. We do not needs Bridge in this land, we are seriously concerned that the World Bank are continuing to support Bridge and should have supported the public education system in the slums and around the area.
  • We believe LFPS are a wrong direction for Kenya. Our campaign has contacted the ministry and requested to close bridge schools, it is the wrong group to invest in education in Kenya, we believe the government of Kenya can provide public education for those in slums.

Salima Namusobya

  • Uganda has LFPS in urban slum areas, there is a lack of accountability. This has had a negative impact on education, the reintroduction of fees, the growth of the private schools, it has a detrimental impact on the education of poor children.
  • The quality of education is frequently lacking, it is not helping out of school children in rural areas or children with disabilities, as most schools are in urban areas and the buildings does not accommodate for children with disabilities.
  • There are challenges to the legality of the LFPS, there have been several developments with BIA in Uganda.
  • In January BIA was invited by the education working group by the ministry. Issues with poor infrastructure and sanitation and BIA works with an unapproved curriculum. BIA has been ordered to not open any news schools until the issues are addressed.
  • In July the ministry of education issued a letter directing the closure of all BIAs in Uganda.
  • In August BIA went to court seeking injunction against the order of the closure, following the minister to close all BIA schools. BIA secured an interim order against closure until the case is heard. Awaiting to hear of the final outcome of the case.

Oni R. Lusk-Stover

  • I am a senior education specialist working on the World Bank’s Invest early, invest smartly, invest for all
  • Everyone has attended a range of different education
  • The challenge is 121 million children are out of primary or secondary school. The World Bank defines an the education system, as all learning opportunities available in a society. Over 90% of World Bank investment in education goes to the public sector.
  • The Bank has a research initiative, Systems approach for better education results (SABER): engaging the private sector (EPS). Our aim is to give governments a better understanding of their education possibilities, increasing accountability for all actors in the education system. Increase the evidence base, access, quality, equity and affordability. To strengthen accountability and transparency.
  • The private or non-state sector-as we like to refer to it-, is more than just BIA.
  • A case study: Senegalese government approached the Bank, we need to evaluate our laws in the education sector. The World Bank supported an investigation in the education system and recommended how to improve the education system.

Tanvir Muntasim

  • In the report we have specific recommendations for governments, funders and civil society. The false notion of private sector efficiency has been disproved many times. Civil society needs to actively engage with the education policy and make sure education is in line with the human rights obligations of the governments to provide education.

Q: Why are parents choosing to pay for schools, if there are already public schools available?

Q: these areas are in slum areas, the parents put kids in schools, so they are in school. What are the solutions that can come out of this meeting? What does the WB lady think that we need to do?

Q: How do we make sure that certification doesn’t strangle the provision of education?

Q: Liberia seeks to contract out all its primary schools. Question to Oni; these are for profit entities. For profit, taking from meagre government wallet. For profit; which pockets are being lined, do the resources even stay within the country? You use the term ‘education markets’, rather than education services.

Q:In India there is a larger increase in private schools than public. How does this fit into the case of India?

Oni R. Lusk-Stover

  • I a glad you mentioned Liberia, it is very much on the radar. Its phenomenal that there has been a bit of stepping back. There will be an impact evaluation and a pilot going forward, that will be rigorously evaluated. We are all human after all. We need to step back and going forward in a way that is sustainable.
  • Liberia is a great case; we need the evidence before moving forward.
  • Education markets vs education services. We need to think about children going to school. I come from a family of teachers, so always try to make it personal. The government should be the steward of the education system

Tanvir Muntasim

  • The perception of private being better/more efficient. Private schools and schooling in English have the perception of being better quality; schools using technology, a tablet, no matter on how they use it, thought to delivering better quality.
  • It is putting our money where out mouth is, which has failed so far.
  • Liberia, it is interesting that the government says it does not have money to invest in public education, but then cough up 11 million to pay for this pilot.
  • Jim Kim, the world bank is not afraid to move on from projects or strategies that go wrong. It would be great to see.
  • Lumping together all schools together as non-state education is inclusive, but losses nuances.

Wilson Sossion

  • Public to private; BIA schools are promoting to offer better education and say they will offer children a laptop, which is their marketing strategy, which is deceptive. Bridge is not offering better education.
  • How to offer better education in slums, in the largest slum in Africa only 5% of schools is public, so there is very low government investment in education in this places. The bridge schools are worse in infrastructure than the slums themselves. The legal framework around education and quality in this country [Kenya] is good.

Oni R. Lusk-Stover

  • our concluding remarks are completing. I emphasize three words; evidence, accountability and assumptions. We are trying to understand more within our policy intent work, we benchmark according to the type of provider type. The aim is to offer the highest quality, universal, free education for all children world wide.

Jennifer Rigg

See full powerpoint of all presentations here